HRC to Governor Hutchinson: Don’t Mimic Indiana, Veto H.B. 1228

WASHINGTON— Today, in light of the final passage of H.B. 1228 by the Arkansas legislature, the Human Rights Campaign re-iterated its call on Governor Asa Hutchinson to veto the bill. The legislation, nearly identical to similar language passed in Indiana, empowers discrimination against LGBT people, people of color, religious minorities, women and other minority groups across the state. HRC joins dozens of leaders and businesses in denouncing the bill, including two members of the historic ‘Little Rock Nine’, Ernie Green and Carlotta Walls Lanier, who integrated Little Rock’s Central High School. Others who have condemned the legislation include civil rights leader Julian BondApple and its CEO, Tim CookAcxiom, one of Arkansas’ largest employers; Arkansas-based Wal-Mart; Yelp; PayPal; the Arkansas Municipal League and the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"The legislation is shameful, pure and simple. Governor Hutchinson has a moral duty to veto this legislation, or his reputation will be forever stained by siding with a divisive political faction over the rights of his own people--and by dragging my home state toward the wrong side of history," said Arkansas native and HRC President Chad Griffin.

 If Governor Hutchinson signs H.B. 1228 into law, it will be the second piece of anti-LGBT legislation to become law in Arkansas this year. In February, the legislature passed S.B. 202, prohibiting municipalities from enacting non-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBT people. Governor Hutchinson allowed the bill to become law without his signature.  H.B.1228, known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, could allow any person to ignore state laws and cite their personal religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate against others. For instance, a teacher who puts an anti-bullying policy into practice could be at risk of being sued, or a police officer could sue their precinct because patrolling a synagogue violated their religious beliefs.

 The passage of H.B. 1228 comes just hours after Indiana Governor Mike Pence tried to limit the economic damage and public humiliation he brought to Indiana by signing a widely-denounced, discriminatory anti-LGBT law last Thursday. In a press conference Tuesday, Pence asked for legislation to be sent to his desk this week that makes clear that the law cannot be used to deny services to anyone. However, Pence did not offer specifics to his request and did not offer support for LGBT non-discrimination protections. Pence said he wants to see on his desk “legislation this week that makes it clear that this law does not give the right to deny services to anyone.” He continued, “I’m determined to address this this week and to move forward as a state.”

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